FirstGov Embracing Syndication

    February 13, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

RSS feeds and email updates from the US government’s communications website deliver its latest official news and information.

FirstGov Embracing Syndication
The US Government Appearing In Syndication

The federal government has slowly begun the painful shift to a more effective electronic means of doing its work. One site that has been the open side for citizen access to government information, FirstGov, announced the addition of RSS feeds and email updates on topics it covers.

FirstGov offers two RSS feeds, one on updates to government news and information, the other focusing on the most popular questions asked of the government. The site noted in a statement the latter feed will be updated multiple times each week, with monthly themes related to topics like taxes and back-to-school being highlighted.

Also, FirstGov wisely made updates to thirty-three of its most popular pages available via email. The majority of Internet users have not broadly embraced RSS. FirstGov inadvertently demonstrated the biggest hurdle to RSS adoption, by making what should be a simple subscription to RSS feeds more difficult.

Current stable versions of Firefox and Opera web browsers can automatically detect if a feed is available for a site, and provide an icon in the address bar for users to add it to Live Bookmarks (Firefox) or Feeds (Opera).

Neither browser detected FirstGov’s feeds. Only by visiting the bottom left of FirstGov’s page for a link to the feeds page can one find links to a page with the feeds. Opera recognizes a FirstGov RSS feed link when it is clicked and offers an option to add it to feeds, while the more widely used Firefox doesn’t even see it as something it can Live Bookmark.

Hopefully the FirstGov team can fix this shortly, now that work on enhancing the site’s search engine with help from MSN Search and Vivisimo has been completed.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.